New Study: Africa's "E-Waste Hoax" is a Gift that Keeps On Taking

No surprise to regular readers of this blog...

The 5 year old hypothesis that African technicians and entrepreneurs are illegally importing "e-waste" to save money for USA and European Recyclers is still full of @#$*.

Global Circular Economy of Strategic Metals – the Best-of-two-Worlds Approach (Bo2W)
Oeko-Institut Authors Andreas Manhart , Tobias Schleicher, Stefanie Degreif

Here is the full report, view pages 13-14 at a minimum.

It seems any way they turn the data, at any angle, the Africans accused by Interpol's "Project Eden" are simply smart entrepreneurs, to whom we should give credit for:

- 6.9 million households with televisions in Nigeria
- The fastest growing internet access in the world
- Leapfrogging landlines by buying used analog phone towers (replaced by 4G etc)

Better studies show the statistics in less apologetic fashion.  Personally, I'm still not quite satisfied with some of the report's conclusions, which seem to be trying to offer a figleaf to the accusers.
"These volumes (both, repairable and non-repairable items) are e-waste and fall under the provisions of the Basel Convention. As the competent authority in Ghana (EPA) did not receive any request for granting e-waste imports in 2009, these shipments  constitute violations of the Basel Convention."
Well, no.

The 7% which is repaired is definitely not e-waste under the Basel Convention, and its frustrating that someone would go to the effort to write this report and not read Basel Convention's Annex IX (B1110) which states this unequivocably.  The Basel "Ban Amendment" wasn't passed.

Furthermore, the 7% non-working and non-repairable segment is lower than loads of TESTED WORKING EQUIPMENT I PERSONALLY PURCHASED FROM AN E-STEWARD. It represents less waste than new warranty returns! Accidental breakage in shipping, mistakes in inspection, etc. do not constitute "wastecrime".   I buy equipment and have to retest it again after shipping, this is called real life and its normal and not a crime.

Manhart, Schleicher and Degreif have done a good job at least reporting the scale of the problem more effectively, but they are missing out when they think that things shipped as "working" arrive 100% working, and missing out thinking that things that work are worth more to Africans than things that don't work.   We learned this in Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, which took the "tinkerer's blessing" and turned into "Asian Tiger" economies.  This should NOT be taken off the table in Africa, and even impugning the trade is wrong because it drives people out of the supply chain the same as Prohibition.  African have fewer people willing to sell to them, and that drives the quality down farther than an emphasis on enforcement of "non-working" ever will.

Here are links to a better done report from MIT. which shows practically no junk exports.

Study shows Africans are not importing much junk.  Check.
Study shows Americans are not exporting much junk.  Check.

This was all a big mistake.  Even admits their "80% export" data was fake.

Let's admit it, shall we?

Let us look Africans like Hurricane Benson, Hurricane Hamdy, and Hurricane Wahab in the eye and apologize.  Greenpeace may have meant well, but Greenpeace and Ban played the role of firemen in Birmingham Alabama.  Google or Bing "Firehose + e-waste" for the series of blogs I published a year ago following the Fair Trade Recycling Summit.

Then google "Bullyboys, Hurricane, and E-waste exports", if necessary.  The truth in this report has been out there for awhile.  It's environmental malpractice disguised as environmental justice.

We met the enemy already, and he was us.

Interpol is still arresting the best Africa has.  Interpol needs to read Basel Action Network's retraction to the fake, false, racisit, defamatory statistics it gave to Interpol's Emile Lindemulder in 2009.   No, it's not "collateral damage", Mr. Puckett.  It is ongoing racial profiling disguised as environmental injustice campaigning.  It's a liberal-on-African crime which should have stopped immediately, not fueled with poverty porn.  At the end of your career, you will have made a lot of money making racial profiles of geeks of color into wads of dough for planned obsolescence and big shred.  You destroy good poor people and call their nemeses "stewards".   Biggest black eye to environmentalism.   Because of people like E-Stewards and BAN, we have doubters of climate change.   The environmental community are cowards for letting this racial profiling continue for this long.  Stop. It. Now.

Here's a better study (2011) with a little less cover-up for Netherlands accidental racists:

"The majority of refurbished products stem from imports via the ports of Lagos. The interim results from project component 2, the Nigerian e-Waste Country Assessment, show that 70% of all the imported used equipment is functional and is sold to consumers after testing. 70% of the non-functional share can be repaired within the major markets and is also sold to consumers. 9% of the total imports of used equipment is non-repairable and is directly passed on to collectors and recyclers."
Final report of the UNEP SBC, E-waste Africa Project,  Lagos & Freiburg, June 2011 

No comments: